Given that she had to coerce us into cleaning our bedroom by rather surreptitiously hiding small change in the corners (and encouraging us to ‘find what the fairies left!’), our mother would be quite relieved to know of our passion for cleanliness in adulthood! And while you won’t find nickels and dimes in the brew head or the water tank — at least, you shouldn’t — Breville’s maintenance supplies make it easy and almost as fun to keep your espresso machine clean.
Tea lovers, pour over aficionados, French press geeks and cup noodle fanatics know that you can’t beat a good electric kettle. But with so many to choose from, how is one to decide which is the best for their needs?
Watch as Gail takes us through the paces of several different models that we carry. She goes over their features and specs, then we perform a (not-so) madcap race to see how quickly they boil 20 oz. of water.
LCD screen lets you set grind (coarse to fine) volume (in cups and shots depending on fineness of grind) and dosage (weak to strong)
Timer or on/off switch
Timer and manual
Timer and manual setting
Time to grind double shot
Only with timer, not by weight/volume
Automatically adjusts with grind; from coarser (dose in cups) to fine (dose in shots)
Doser avail for +$10, otherwise chute only
Grind consistency (1-5 scale, 5=most consistent)
40 individual step settingsFinest setting: 3
Coarsest setting: 1
25 settingsFinest setting: 4
Coarsest setting: 2
55 settingsFinest setting: 5, like talc
Coarsest setting: 3
Shot performance (scale of 1-5, 5=strongest)
3: Overall, a solid shot, with the depth you’d expect from a fresh grind and proper dial-in.
4: A solid shot with great flavor and slightly more complex notes using the 2nd finest setting.
5: Shot has a great mouth feel, and you can taste more complexity and richness to the shot.
No frills, no fuss, easy to use, it’s a strong performer for espresso and other coffee applications. No electric panel makes trouble shooting a breeze as your grinder ages.
The lightest of the pack, this grinder is extremely versatile and a great value. It’s all about the features and accessories: portafilter holders, ground coffee canister, removable hopper to switch out beans.
Commercial quality for home use and it shows. Largest footprint of all grinders, a big commitment to your counter top, but with definite benefits in shot quality.
The Rocky is a literal heavyweight coming in at 18 pounds and a hundred dollar heftier price tag, but there’s no doubt that the commercial quality burrs make a difference when it comes to tasting the complexity of your shot. I love the Virtuoso’s ease of use and inherent versatility, so it’s often my go-to for testing espresso, pour overs and french press. But like an ostrich, I am drawn to shiny objects and I wish it had more stainless in the casing. The Smart Grinder fulfills this need, and weighing in under six pounds means it doesn’t need to be a permanent fixture on your countertop – but it could be because it’s great for households with multiple coffee drinkers with different bean preferences. What would you choose?
If you want to make excellent espresso drinks at home, a double boiler machine allows you to demonstrate both your dedication to the cause and your enviable skills. Featuring separate boilers for steaming and brewing, these machines offer excellent temperature control and simultaneous brew/steam functionality.
In the market for an espresso grinder but not sure if dropping an extra hundred bucks will benefit you? We asked Gail to compare the functionality, grind consistency and shot quality (using the Crossland CC1) of the Breville Smart Grinder and the Rancilio Rocky to find out.
One of the benefits of an espresso machine with a PID interface is that you get to play around with the temperature, almost without consequence. Of course, you’ll end up in a jittery haze as you taste shot after shot, but that’s all part of the fun.
Watch Gail pull shots of Atomic Cafe on the Breville Dual Boiler, using different temperatures; we taste them and then discuss how they compare.
While we loved several of the features on Breville’s BES830XL, the temperature consistency did leave a bit to be desired. So imagine our tearful joy when we learned that Breville was implementing an upgrade to the internals of this machine and releasing a new model!
You can check out the differences between the older heating tech and the new heating tech (if you’re into that kind of thing) in this video. Then watch Gail take us through the BES840XL’s features and demonstrate functionality. The BES840XL will be available in mid-June 2012.
A thermoblock or thermocoil takes water from the reservoir in an espresso machine and heats it on the fly, versus heating up a full boiler of water. This technology is commonly seen on home espresso machines, where it manages either the brew function, steam function or both. The benefit of a thermoblock is that it doesn’t take as long for your machine to heat up for either brew or steam; however, the drawback can be that your temperature for brew or steam is not quite as consistent as you might like.
Gail introduces us to a few different varieties of thermoblocks/thermocoils and shows how they compare to a standard boiler (specifically, the internals of the Breville Dual Boiler).
Special thanks to Breville for providing the sample internals for this video!
For folks that dig precision, a dual boiler espresso machine with PID temperature control of the brew boiler is hard to beat. While we tend to shoot from the hip in general around here, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate a shot pulled from one of these beauties!
We asked Gail to pull shots from the Izzo Alex Duetto II, La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi and Breville Dual Boiler so that we could see how they compare. No science at work here, friends (hey, old habits die hard!), but we did use the same grinder for each machine (the Nuova Simonelli MCI), coffee (Lavazza Super Crema) and brew temp (199F) to try to nail down a few of the variables.
Watch as we taste and discuss the shots from each of these machines, then rank them in terms of our favorites, flavor-wise.